The calls, usually around 11 p.m., are some of Homer Drew’s favorite times as a father.
Sons Scott and Bryce are on the phone with him, and the conversations will turn to their teams, for 15 years Scott’s Baylor Bears and for the past two, Bryce’s Vanderbilt Commodores.
“It’s some of my proudest moments,’’ said former Valparaiso coach Homer Drew on the NCAA.com podcast March Madness 365. “It’s about basketball, life, anything. It makes a dad feel warm about his two sons.’’
How long do the calls go?
“It depends on how the year is going,’’ said Homer Drew. “It could be very quick or very long.’’
The calls happen a few times a week and sometimes more.
But if the projections are correct this season then Bryce will have plenty of positives to add to the conversations while Scott is just as optimistic that his contribution to the call will be uplifting too.
Vanderbilt has a transitional, program-changing recruiting class in Nashville, led by 6-2 point guard Darius Garland from nearby Brentwood Academy.
Bryce Drew said on the podcast that Garland is dynamic, has an unbelievable feel and is a great leader.
Toss in 6-9 Simi Shittu, who is still recovering from an ACL injury, but the hope is he will be a major contributor, and the Commodores have two players who could be one-and-done if things fall their way.
Drew said freshman Aaron Nesmith was one of the best shooters in the country in the class.
“Three top 55 kids will make an impact with us from day one,’’ said Bryce Drew.
He said transfer bigs Matt Ryan (Notre Dame) and 6-10 New Zealand native Yanni Wetzell (St. Mary’s, Texas) will have an impact as well. Oh, and there’s also Saben Lee, who Bryce Drew said will add scoring and defense.
“Vanderbilt has a great tradition but has never been to a Final Four,’’ said Bryce Drew.
Could that change in 2019? Well, that may be a bit too much of a reach. But expecting the Commodores to be in the NCAA tournament and competing near the top of the SEC shouldn’t be a surprise in March.
“It’s going to come down to health since we’re not a deep team,’’ said Bryce Drew. “We don’t need any hiccups.’’
Scott Drew took over a program in chaos in 2003 and has done one of the more remarkable rebuilds in college basketball. Drew walked into major sanctions when he arrived in 2003 that included no non-conference games and a skeleton roster. The Bears weren’t eligible for the postseason in 2004 and didn’t make it until 2008. Since then, the Bears have been in the NCAA Tournament six times. Baylor has been to two Elite Eights, losing to eventual national champs Kentucky in 2012 and Duke in 2010.
I have been Blessed to have Coached a lot of Great Players and worked with Great Coaches while at Baylor. Thank you Baylor Nation for helping us build this Program! #1TGF #SicEm https://t.co/mta2DgxH81— Scott Drew (@BUDREW) August 22, 2018
The Bears were a bubble team a year ago, finishing with eight Big 12 wins and 19 overall.
Where the Bears finish this season is still a major question, but the Bears won’t lack for intriguing pieces.
Yale transfer Makai Mason should be a major shooter for Baylor. Scott Drew said on the podcast that Mississippi State transfer Mario Kegler will also be a scorer for the Bears.
“He does a lot of things on the court and we’re expecting big things from him,’’ Drew said of Kegler. “Makai, anytime someone scores 30-plus points on you, if you can’t beat him, then have him join you and play for us instead of against us.’’
Mason was apart of the Yale team that upset Baylor in the NCAA tournament 79-75 in 2016 in Providence behind Mason’s 31 points.
Scott Drew said shooting was an issue last season and that Darius Allen and Devonte Bandoo, both junior college transfers, can help in that regard.
And the usual long, athletic bigs are on the roster too in 6-9 Flo Thamba and 6-9 Freddie Gillespie.
With so many new faces on both teams, Scott and Bryce will have plenty to discuss with Homer when the calls ramp up this season.
“What’s great about it is it’s my dad and brother, and we know how each will respond best,’’ said Scott Drew. “It’s great having a father who can give you great wisdom about the profession on what you need to know about being a father and husband, too. Sometimes when you lose you tend to overreact and as someone who has been in the profession as long as he was he can talk you off the ledge.’’
Lefty Driesell, the former Davidson, Maryland, James Madison and Georgia State coach, also joined the March Madness 365 podcast to discuss his career and pending induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame next week.
Former coaches like Driesell will be more the norm in the near future since the Hall of Fame adopted a new policy last December. Players, referees and coaches now must have been retired for three full seasons before they can become eligible on the Hall of Fame ballot. And coaches must have worked for 25 years and reached the minimum age of 60.
Currently, there are six active Hall of Fame coaches in college basketball who got in before this rule change in Kentucky’s John Calipari, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Kansas’ Bill Self.